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By Louis Osborne Coxe

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Surely 46 When they know that, they and the land are ours And Christ's. My life upon it. What we do Now in the first of bringing God to them Shall make direction. " Becque Was silent in saturnine darkness. Duclos moved Bending below the candlelight. "The Abenaki. " A mild November morning, drawing mist From water. Peter's birch canoe spurts out And into whiteness, carrying Duclos Whose black soutane hangs in the fog alone An instant, then removes like a black light. Becque, a shadow left, stands on the shingle, One arm in benediction raised to emptiness, Having stirred the hand of empire and its God.

They found me starving in the snow, The Abenaki hunters, and they brought me Here to Norumbega, to this church That they have helped to build. Oh not from piety. Becque and the others—they are wrong. Until We change their hearts we cannot win their souls. What use to preach and die, threaten and die? They live in a special world of their own blood We do not see or fear. Until we save them From fear and internecine war our holy medicine To them is virtueless. They are a dying race Unless we show them life.

The interlacing web-prints show awhile Your track into the forest, but the drifting All day and night shall sigh along those traces Until, traceless and lost, you are alone, Your known world gone, around you white despair. Snow came early that winter, thick to last. Before dawn Peter woke to the first few flakes Stinging his face. The world was close and grey. He sniffed the air and went to rouse Duclos. The Jesuit would see that morning often But only once he spoke of it, alone Telling Rouville, later at Norumbega, The strict events.

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